OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 1 released, adding all XBMC 12 features

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

The OpenELEC team has been busy. They just released version OpenELEC 2.0 a few weeks ago, and now we get OpenELEC 3.0 beta 1 that includes XBMC in all of it’s glory 12.0 glory.  This includes PVR support,  the modern audio engine that now supports formats like TrueHD and DTS-HD, the Linux kernel 3.6 and support for ARM devices in the form of Raspberry Pi boards.

For those of you that are not familiar with OpenELEC it is, for the most part, an unmodified version of XBMC that runs with only the minimum amount of software needed.  This makes OpenELEC more stable and easier to use.  The setup is even more simplified then the XBMC installer(didn’t think it was needed).  Of course if you would still like the flexibility of Ubuntu or Windows under the hood you can still download the installs over at http://XBMC.org.  Essentially OpenELEC is a XBMC distro of Linux that can auto update itself.

New Features:

  • Based on XBMC 12.0 Frodo
  • ARM Support (Raspberry Pi)
  • Linux 3.6 kernel
  • Improved PRV support
  • Brand New Audio Engine with True HD and DTS-HD support
  • Updated Drivers
  • Boot to RAM option

Manual Update Instructions:

  1. Browse to your OpenELEC boxes SAMBA share  in operating system of your choice.   (if you don’t know what the IP address is, go to the menu of the OpenELEC machine, and browse to the main item “System” and then its subitem “System Info”. This will open a page that shows the IP address among with other information.)
  2. Once you have found the SAMBA share navigate to the “Update” folder.  This is where you will copy the files in step 5
  3. Download the latest version of OpenELEC for your device.  Available for download here: http://openelec.tv/get-openelec
  4. Extract all files from the downloaded file.
  5. Navigate to the “Target” Folder which will be found in the location you extracted the downloaded file.
  6. Copy the files from the “Target” folder to the “Update” folder found on the SAMBA share. The files are KERNEL, KERNEL.md5, SYSTEM and SYSTEM.md5.
  7. Restart OpenELEC and the update will be installed automatically.
  8. When the reboot has finished navigate to the “System > Settings > System > Audio output” menu.  Make sure that the output settings properly reflect your receivers capabilities. (ie: Does your receiver support TrueHD?)

Source: http://openelec.tv/

Hello Linux Mint 14

Screenshot from 2012-11-28 22:12:40

Everyone’s favorite Ubuntu variation Linux Mint has reached version 14.  Currently Linux Mint comes in two GUI variations MATE, that is based off GNOME 2, and Cinnamon, which is based off GNOME 3 project.  The KDE GUI will inevitably follow in the near future.  Update:  KDE and xfce have been given an RC release.

Overall Linux Mint 14 seems to be as stable as ever with some useful GUI tweaks.  I have been using Linux Mint 14 with the Cinnamon GUI for several hours to complete some work while watching Hulu on my second monitor.  The HD Hulu stream ran with any hiccups while writing this blog entry, browsing the web and work on other websites.  Considering that I am running Linux Mint 14 on a USB pen drive it has been quite stable and snappy.

Linux Mint has always been my preferred Desktop Linux distro, and Linux Mint 14 continues the trend of stability and ease of use on the first boot.  I threw MKV, MP3, WMV and several other media formats at Linux Mint as usual Linux Mint didn’t hesitate to play the files.  For those of you that want to use Linux on your desktop machine, but don’t want to get use to Ubuntus’ Unity GUI give Linux Mint a try.

New features:

  • MATE 1.4 (Fork of GNOME 2)
  • Cinnamon 1.6 (Fork of GNOME 3)
  • MDM
  • Software Manager Updates
  • System Improvements
  • Artwork Improvements
  • Upstream Components

For a complete overview and to see screenshots of the new features, visit: “What’s new in Linux Mint 14“.

This Article was written while running Linux Mint 14.

5 products that save you money on your power bill

Philips LED Light Bulb

5) Belkin Conserve Valet with Energy-Saving USB Charging Station

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$39.99

Energy vampires will Nickle & Dime your power bill to death. What is an energy vampire? Most AC adapters like your phone or iPod charger draw power 24/7 to charge you devices, even when its not connected to the charger. An average a home has at least 3 USB wall chargers multiplying the problem further.

This problem can be solved with the Belkin Conserve Valet USB charger. The Valet can charge up to 5 USB devices at once, and will shut off completely after the device charging is complete. Not only does the Valet save you from up to 5 power sucking wall chargers, but it organizes the mess at the same time.


4) Belkin Conserve Socket with Energy Saving Outlet

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$29.99

This device slays power vampires as well, but these are much larger and suck even more power. The Belkin Conserve Socket plays multiple roles by acting as a surge protector to keep your devices safe from surges, at the same time saving you from the 24/7 draw of you home electronics.

This power strip is best suited for home entertainment systems with multiple devices. The TV or AV Receiver acts as the master on/off switch. When the TV is OFF all the wasteful standby power is cut from the other devices, while the power is restored when the master device is ON. This is an easy solution to a very wasteful problem.


3) Watt Stopper Motion Light And Fan Switch

Manufacturer:
Watt Stopper
Cost:
$29.99

Most families have someone in the house that seems to forget that lights also turn off. This wastes a lot of power, burning up the life of the bulb and wasting money on your power bill.

The Watt Stopper Motion Activated light turns on your lights or exhaust fans when it detects motion in the room and turns them off after a preset time when motion is not longer present. In addition to limiting power usage with motion the Watt Stopper also keeps light off when enough ambient light is present from the sun or other sources. The Watt Stopper also features a “force off” mode that prevents the light from turning on when you don’t want them on.


2) Philips Dimmable LED 12.5 Watt(60 Watt equivalent) Light Bulb

Manufacturer:
Philips
Cost:
$21.23
Life expectancy:
22.8 years
Energy savings:
$130.62 per bulb

With the incandescent light bulb being banned in the United States in 2014 you will have no choice but to use a more efficient light bulb. Most people are familiar with the CFL(aka Compact fluorescent, aka squiggly bulb). These bulbs are an excellent energy saver, but have about half the life expectancy with the nasty side effect of releasing toxic mercury into landfills when disposed of improperly. That’s right, CFL bulbs are to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Save your self the trouble by investing in an energy saving bulb that doesn’t have to be handled as hazardous waste.

Philips 60 Watt LED equivalent bulb consumes only 12.5watts of energy, lasts 22.8 years, can be used on a standard dimming circuit and will not fade fabric or colors. That all sounds great, but a common argument they cost twice as much as a CFL. Keep in mind that that negligible 1.5 Watts saved with an LED light over a CFL is over the 22.8 years life span, which is over 3 times longer then the CFLs 7 year life span. Pay twice upfront, save energy and get and extra life out of the bulb. That sounds like a winner to me.


1) Nest Learning Thermostat

Manufacturer:
Nest Inc.
Cost:
$249.99
Energy savings:
20% of HVAC bill

Your heating and cooling bill is typically 50% of you energy bill. This fact alone means small improvements in efficiency will save you a lot of money in the long run. The Nest thermostat can save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling bill. The Nest thermostat allows such savings by learning your living patterns, controlling your HVAC system more efficiently and allowing for remote control of your heating and cooling system via your computer or smart phone.

All of these features can be added to your home in less then 30 minutes. Not only will you save yourself some money on you monthly energy bills, but your thermostat will look a whole lot “cooler.” The savings of 20% on half of your energy bill, essentially paying itself of the first year, makes this the number one pick for saving money on your energy bill.


Mars One gives lucky astronauts one way ticket to Mars

Mars One


Mars One has plans to settle mars by the year 2023. What makes this plan easier to accomplish then NASA or any other colonization attempts? The settlers are getting a one way ticket to mars, without the chance to come back to earth.  The colony will initially survive with frequent resupply missions, new settlers as well as using the natural resources of Mars to expand and maintain the colony.

The idea of settling another planet like mars without the option of ever coming back seems like a crazy idea.  When the explorers of the 1400’s began to settle the new world they faced and arguably similar situation.  Granted the settlers of today will have a completely different set of problems to overcome.

The Mars One team plans on funding the project by broadcasting the entire journey to the citizens of earth.   Real World Mars anyone?  Lets just hope the sponsors are in it for the long run…

Project outline

  • 2016 – The initial supply mission will make its way to the surface, and a communications satellite will be placed in orbit.
  • 2018 – A large planetary rover will be sent to Mars as a scout.  The rover will find the best location for the Mars colony.
  • 2020 – The settlement components will be delivered to Mars.  This includes the living units, life support units, another rover and more supplies.  While the colony waits for its first settlers the rovers will get everything in order.
  • September 2022 – The setting crew departs earth.
  • April 2023 – The first humans will land on Mars, and become the first human beings to colonize another planet.

Mars One settlers colony will initially be composed of multiple capsules.


Source: http://mars-one.com

Samba 4 RC5 has been released

SAMBA Logo

SAMBA Logo

The free alternative to Windows Server Active Directory/Domain Controller, Samba4, has been in the making for years and continues to inch closer to a stable release.  The feature set is now frozen and the development team is busy squashing major bugs before labeling Samba4 stable for production use.

Our experience with Samba4 as a small office domain controller has been a stable, bug free experience.  The installation on our Ubuntu server was fairly painless when following the HOW-TO located on the official Samba website.  The DC has yet to crash or cause any problems with the PC’s on our diverse network.

Samba4 packs everything you expect from a Windows Domain Controller into a free open source package.  Samba4 is in a unique position to shake up the Domain Controller market by making a free option to pricey Microsoft options.  I am excited to see Samba4 reach the stable release, so that I can begin implementation outside of our networks.

Samba4 Features

  • Samba 4.0 supports the server-side of the Active Directory logon environment used by Windows 2000 and later, so we can do full domain join and domain logon operations with these clients.
  • Our Domain Controller (DC) implementation includes our own built-in LDAP server and Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) as well as the Samba3-like logon services provided over CIFS. We correctly generate the infamous Kerberos PAC, and include it with the Kerberos tickets we issue.
  • Samba 4.0.0rc5 ships with two distinct file servers. We now use the file server from the Samba 3.x series ‘smbd’ for all file serving by default.
  • Samba 4.0 also ships with the ‘NTVFS’ file server. This file server is what was used in all previous releases of Samba 4.0, and is tuned to match the requirements of an AD domain controller. We continue to support this, not only to provide continuity to installations that have deployed it as part of an AD DC, but also as a running example of the NT-FSA architecture we expect to move smbd to in the longer term.
  • For pure file server work, the binaries users would expect from that series (nmbd, winbindd, smbpasswd) continue to be available. When running an AD DC, you only need to run ‘samba’ (not nmbd/smbd/winbind), as the required services are co-coordinated by this master binary.
  • As DNS is an integral part of Active Directory, we also provide two DNS solutions, a simple internal DNS server for ‘out of the box’ configurations and a more elaborate BIND plugin using the BIND DLZ mechanism in versions 9.8 and 9.9. During the provision, you can select which backend to use. With the internal backend, your DNS server is good to go. If you chose the BIND_DLZ backend, a configuration file will be generated for bind to make it use this plugin, as well as a file explaining how to set up bind.
  • To provide accurate timestamps to Windows clients, we integrate with the NTP project to provide secured NTP replies. To use you need to start ntpd and configure it with the ‘restrict … ms-sntp’ and ntpsigndsocket options.
  • Finally, a new scripting interface has been added to Samba 4, allowing Python programs to interface to Samba’s internals, and many tools and internal workings of the DC code is now implemented in python.

Source: https://wiki.samba.org/index.php/Samba4/Releases/4.0.0rc5

4TB WD Black HDD Ships

WD Black 4TB Hard Drive

 WD Black 4TB Hard Drive

Western Digital has increase the maximum capacity of their WD Black line of hard drives to 4TB with a snappy 7200RPM and 64MB cache.  Western Digital designed this hard drive not only to have the largest capacity on the market, but to also be blazing fast a the same time.  The spec sheet for the WD 4TB Black reads like a performance drive with a 7200RPM spinn speed, 64MB cache, dual processor and dual actuator technology.  Western Digital also included NoTouch™ ramp load technology to keep your hard drive safe while transporting it to your next LAN party.

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Specs

  • Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
  • Form Factor: 3.5 Inch
  • Speed: 7200 rpm
  • Cache: 64 MB
  • Capacity: 4 TB
  • Price: $339

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Press Release

WD® EXPANDS ITS HIGHEST-PERFORMING DESKTOP HARD DRIVES TO 4 TB CAPACITY

New WD Black Hard Drives Offer Uncompromising Storage Performance for Enthusiasts, Gamers.

IRVINE, Calif. – Nov. 20, 2012 – WD®, a Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) company and a world leader in hard drives, today announced its highest performance, highest capacity desktop hard drive, the WD Black™ 4 TB, 3.5-inch, 7200 RPM drive. Shipping immediately, the fast performance and extreme capacity of the award-winning WD Black drives make them perfect for gaming, high-performance desktop systems and workstations.

WD Black hard drives combine 7200 RPM spin speed, 64 MB cache, dual stage actuator technology, SATA 6 gigabits per second (Gb/s) interface, and an integrated dual processor to deliver ultimate performance in a maximum-capacity drive.

“Maximizing the features and functionality of power computing applications such as gaming, multimedia and video editing, the new WD Black 4 TB hard drives offer capacity and performance-without compromise,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD’s client storage group. “In choosing WD Black hard drives, WD desktop customers get the best possible mix of capacity, performance and reliability to handle intense desktop computing with ease.”

WD Black 4 TB hard drives feature:

Dual processor – Twice the processing power to maximize performance.

Dual actuator technology – A head positioning system with two actuators that improves positional accuracy over the data track(s). The primary actuator provides coarse displacement using conventional electromagnetic actuator principles. The secondary actuator uses piezoelectric motion to fine tune the head positioning to a higher degree of accuracy.

IntelliSeek™ – Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise and vibration.

StableTrac™ – The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations.

NoTouch™ ramp load technology – The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit.

Price and Availability

The WD Black 4 TB GB (model WD4001FAEX) hard drives are available through select distributors and resellers. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the WD Black 4 TB drive is $339.00 USD. More information about WD Black 4 TB desktop hard drives may be found on the company’s website at: http://www.wd.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=760.

WD Black drives are covered by a five-year limited warranty, see: http://www.support.wdc.com for details.

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 released

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 has been released to the public, and with it bringing features that many have been waiting years for.  This major update brings with it support for Android, Raspberry Pi and Live TV/PVR support.

New Features

  • HD audio support, including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD, via the new XBMC AudioEngine
  • Live TV and PVR support
  • h.264 10bit (aka Hi10P) video software decoding for anime
  • 64bit support in OSX to match the 64bit support in Linux
  • Improved image support, allowing the database to accomodate numerous additional image types
  • Support for the Raspberry PI
  • Initial support for the Android platform
  • Improved Airplay support across all platforms
  • Advanced Filtering in the library
  • Advanced UPnP sharing
  • Translations now powered by Transifex
  • Bug Fixes

 Downloads:

All ReadyNAS devices receive a firmware update

Netgear ReadyNAS V2 ARM based NAS devices

Netgear ReadyNAS V2 ARM based NAS devices

RAIDiator firmware has been updated to 5.3.7 (ARM), 4.2.22 (x86) and 4.1.10 (Sparc)  on the  popular Netgear ReadyNAS line of devices.  The x86 and now discontinued Sparc product line received mostly just bug fixes as well as the new features listed below, while the ARM line was graced with several new features.

The fact that the ARM line with the latest generation of RAIDiator 5.x firmware was the only version to get any new features seems to point in the direction of Netgear getting ready to release RAIDiator 5.x on the x86 line as well.  This is needed to keep Netgear competitive against QNAP, Synology and Buffalo’s latest NAS server offerings.

x86 – RAIDiator 4.2.22

  • EXT4 format support for USB device
  • Bug fixes

ARM – RAIDiator 5.3.7

  • Enhance Genie Apps support
  • Enhance ReadyRemote & ReadyDrop support
  • Support .MTS video file searching for DLNA client
  • Support remote UPS and enhance local UPS settings
  • Support reset share permissions
  • Support DLNA rescan when enable other service
  • Bug fixes

Sparc – RAIDiator 4.1.10

  • Enhanced ReadyDLNA rescan process
  • Bug fixes

Purchase on Amazon.com

HP Touchpad build of Cyanogenmod gets camera support

HP Touchpad with Cyanogenmod 9 nightly

HP Touchpad with Cyanogenmod 9 nightly

The Android developer Dorregaray at Rootzwiki.com has created support for the HP Touchpad camera in Cyanogenmod 9.  While the fix has not made it into the nightly HP Touchpad Cyanogenmod 9 builds just yet we can use the build from Dorregaray located here: http://rootzwiki.com/topic/34482-unofficial-cm9-with-working-camera/

The camera driver is still the original Android 2.3 gingerbread driver, but uses a wrapper making it compatible with the Android 4.0 kernel. This is great news for everyone that refuses to move on from their $149 fire sale WebOS tablets such as myself.

Cyanogenmod.com domain held hostage

Cyanogenmod Logo

Visit Cyanogenmod.org for the latest builds of cyanogenmod.

The Cyanogenmod team lost control of there .com domain over when a team member was confronted for impersonating another for personal gain. The Cyanogenmod team refused to identify the former team member out of respect for his personal well being and future career.  According to the blog post a former unnamed team member had control of the .com domain and demanded a $10,000 ransom in return.  The Cyanogenmod team refused to pay the ransom, but instead began using Cyanogenmod.org as their primary domain.

The Cyanogenmod team successfully talked down the individual in question.  The ex-team member agreed to retain control of the .com domain, but instead 301 redirect it to their new .org domain name.  The Cyanogenmod team is insisting that there be no retaliation toward the ex-team member because of his actions.

Kudos to the Cyanogenmod team for their cool heads in such a outrageous situation.  They have stated they learned their lesson and will restructure the team to prevent one person from having full control of any one asset.  In addition they advised the members on the Cyanogenmod community to not take any action toward the ex-team member, as they are pursuing all legal avenues to regain control of all their domain and email systems.